As the fall quickly approaches, schools around the country are grappling with the best way to operate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many school districts will start the year virtually, while others will open with a hybrid approach that combines face-to-face instruction with online learning. Even in areas where schools are open fully, many families will choose remote learning for their kids. Regardless of the specifics, millions of American children will spend at least some of their time learning from home this year.
According to the Pew Research Center, stay-at-home moms and dads account for about one-fifth of U.S. parents, meaning 80 percent of parents are employed either full time or part time. When considering households with children under 14 (the oldest minimum age a child can legally be left alone in any of the U.S. states), Census data shows that over 40 percent of families potentially lack an available parent to supervise the kids in the event of school closures. This means that as of 2018 (the most recent Census data release) either both parents worked full time in two-parent families or the one parent worked full time in single-parent families.
The number of single parents has climbed steadily since 1950, and these parents are more likely to work full time than those in married or cohabiting-couple households. Among single-parent households with children under 14 years old, 57 percent have a full-time working parent. Among two-parent households, just 37 percent have both parents working full time.
Although many people now work from home due to the pandemic, juggling work while supervising children is no easy feat. Families with a non-full-time working parent are better positioned to handle the school year; whereas, those without will face unprecedented challenges.